Birthday Parties and Marketing Have More In Common Than You Think

In less than a month I (Rachael) turn 42. It isn’t a “milestone” birthday though a lot of really cool stuff happened this year. So why this sudden desire to have a birthday party?

I shied away from birthday parties after the age of 10 when my diverse social circles inevitably created a level of discomfort among the guests. My 10th birthday sleepover sparked in drama when one of my non-school friends left in tears because of a prank pulled by one of my regular school friends. She shouted, “How could you let her do that? You know I don’t believe in that stuff? Aren’t, you my friend?”

My social circles are even bigger now: Triathletes, Dancers, Gamers, Runners, Cyclists, Nerds, Co-Workers, Artists, Writers, Actors. Some overlap, most don’t. I’m not unique in this situation. I just stress more over the potential ramifications.

I approach birthday parties like a marketing project. What is the theme? Which demographic will attend a birthday party with this theme? How well will this group handle others with different interests and value systems? What about the difference in ages that are bound to attend? By the end of the day I just get so overwhelmed I am certain having a birthday party is a really, really bad idea. This year, my friend Nissa saved the day. When I told her I was turning 42 she exclaimed, “Oh it’s your Hitchhiker’s Birthday!” When my nerdism failed at this vital moment, she explained this:42

The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”, calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question is.

Okay, that is a Wikipedia quote, but you get the picture. The point is, Nissa provided a marketing point of reference. I was going to celebrate my Hitchhiker’s Guide Birthday and though I would still invite everyone, and still tell them to bring strangers (only interesting ones please), I had a better idea of who would be singing off-key while I blew out candles.

All of that is pretty much the same thing to think about when marketing a product, idea, or event. Sure I could have had a general birthday party, but what is the incentive to come? Well, friendship and personal relationship. Those are things you should always develop with your customer. But a theme! Okay, now we are narrowing down the scope. I can develop communication for those who are familiar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, science fiction, or the concept of 42 and it’s correlation to the Answer to the Ultimate Question. If I really wanted to get nerdy at this party (I’m not), I could further narrow down the attendance lists by requiring costumes, making food mentioned in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, or torturing guests by reading Vogon Poetry. And the invites! Wow we could really go to town with specialized design “Don’t Panic” invites and Facebook Event pages.

Thankfully, my friends are not my clients and they were not subjected to mastermind marketing. I sent invites to a bunch of people after creating the Facebook Event page. I’ve been mentioning it to people here and there. I remind them to bring strangers (again only interesting ones). After all:

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination. ~Hitchhiker’s Guilde to the Galaxy

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